House Bill 2801 was scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 29. It is a bill that has instilled fear and anger in news publishers.
In almost every issue of Northwest Asian Weekly, we run public notices, often from King County. An example of such a notice is an invitation to submit a job bid on a particular county project. These notices are placed in our papers so the government can reach more diverse populations, so that it doesn’t always give jobs to the same kind of contractors.
What would happen if these notices disappeared?
That’s what HB 2801 would do. HB 2801 would make publishing public notices in newspapers completely optional. HB 2801 aims to have notices published simply on government websites.
This is problematic because not all government entities even have websites. Many people in our Asian community and the elderly are not computer savvy. If the information is available only on the web, and on a particular website with very poor web traffic, only people looking for the information will find it. Everyone else will miss items that are potentially valuable to them.
In a statewide Washington Newspaper Publishers Association readership survey conducted by Pulse Research, we learned that 86 percent of respondents agreed that agencies should be required to publish legal notices in their newspapers. Fifty-three percent said they or members of their household regularly read public notices.
If passed, HB 2801 could result in the demise of many small publications, which depend on the revenue garnered from public notices.
Help us by contacting your local legislators (dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/) and let them know that you do not support HB 2801. (end)